Thinking about kids attempting suicide makes my heart hurt. To think that a young person, still growing and learning about themselves, would have urges to hurt or even kill themselves. It seems almost unbelievable, but it happens.
Living with a kid who has suicidal urges can be draining and worrisome. How do you prepare meals if you fear your child will take a kitchen knife to themselves? How do you have medication in your home when you fear your child swallowing pills?
How do you know if they held back on their suicidal urges one time that they will hold back the next time? Do you need to follow them everywhere? Can you trust them being alone after school? Could you even cope if you found them lying on the floor either badly hurt or dead?
This is such a highly emotional topic for anyone who’s experienced dealing with a child’s suicide attempts or a completed suicide. It goes against the order of things – parents are supposed to die before their children. It’s also confusing, dramatic, filled with so many unanswered questions, and a sense that at any time your
parental heart could crack right in half from the loss (or near loss).
If you can tell your child is suicidal or seems to be acting strangely (saying “goodbye” to everyone important, excessive drinking or drugging, depressed, isolated), be upfront about it. Don’t gloss it over. A conversation might reveal things you need to talk about anyway, even if they have no real intent to hurt themselves. Or, you could truly be saving their life.
Do a 24-hour watch with friends or relatives. Someone stays awake and physically next to them at all times to ensure their safety. You can always contact your local hospital’s emergency room or a nearby psychiatric hospital to ask questions or have your child assessed suicidal risk. 800-SUICIDE directs your phone call to the nearest crisis center.
Many kids who make suicide attempts simply want to avoid deep emotional pain. Everything suicidal is really a wish to escape, not necessarily end it all for good. Now granted, some really do have a wish for death and finality of it all. But plenty of suicides are actions that don’t quite match to the true intent. They may be caught up in their emotion and lose sight of the bigger picture. They gave in to the impulse rather than taking a step back and trying to reach for help directly.
No matter the true intent, any child’s or teen’s suicide is difficult to think about and understand. If any of you with experience with a situation like this wish to share a story, please do so.